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Millennials must include end-of-life care in estate plan

There are a number of documents to consider as part of an estate plan and some of those documents relate to end-of-life care and health care decisions. While millennials may be just starting their own families or venturing out into the world, an estate plan is something all need to discuss with family members. Despite the benefit of youth, anyone any age in Michigan can find themselves in a situation where incredibly important and life-altering decisions need to be made and preparation can make those situations better for all involved.

One vital document to have, regardless of age, is a power of attorney, or a health care proxy. A power of attorney will give someone the power to make legal and financial decisions if incapacitation occurs. The health care proxy is similar but gives a person power to make specific medical decisions if one is incapacitated or unable to voice what he or she wants.

A will challenge can occur for a number of reasons

A valid will is an essential part of any estate plan since it outlines how an individual's assets are to be distributed upon death. Even if it is executed in accordance with all applicable Michigan laws, that does not mean that it will not be challenged when the time comes. The dynamics of every family are unique, but there are still common threads behind every will challenge.

Relationships within a family are often complicated and in a constant state of flux. Family members get married, divorced and have children. Some family members could even predecease the maker of the will. If these changes are not accounted for in the will, disputes can arise. Furthermore, some family members could end up arguing over a specific piece of property regardless of what the will says. 

Residential real estate transactions often require legal help

For many people, a real estate transaction is the biggest financial decision they will ever make. While the ins and outs of residential real estate may seem fairly clear, any residential real estate transaction or issue generally can benefit from legal support. The complexities of a residential real estate deal in Michigan, along with the chance that disputes that can arise, are far too risky for anyone considering such an undertaking to tackle alone.

The sheer amount of legal paperwork involved in even the most basic residential real estate transaction can be overwhelming. Legal support can ensure purchase agreements and closing documents are all complete and legally binding. Also, a dispute could arise before a closing, and an attorney can negotiate or draft a resolution so the deal can move forward with the protection of each party in mind.

Circumstances that may warrant changing an estate plan

Many people believe that all they need to do is create a will and their estate planning obligations are met until that estate plan is needed. The truth of the matter is that an estate plan should be crafted by any adult with children or any assets, but also that the estate plan is a baseline that may need to be adjusted over time. While most people in Michigan know the importance of having an estate plan to begin with, those same people may be unaware of when or why to alter that plan years down the road.

Relationship changes are a primary reason to change an estate plan. When a person marries, the spouse may need to be added as the prime beneficiary of assets. On the flip side, a divorce is certainly a reason to revisit and alter an estate plan. If a person is still listed as beneficiary of assets, funds and life insurance policies, it will not matter that the couple divorced if that person is still included in a will.

Trust administration choices vary based on circumstances

No two families are alike, so the ways families choose to distribute wealth and assets will vary considerably depending on the unique circumstances of each family. Before Michigan families begin making decisions about estate planning and trust administration, it is important for them to understand their options. Understanding the different types of trusts and their purposes can help a family to ensure funds and assets are handled according to its specific needs.

The specific objectives of a trust matter immensely. One area of great concern may be care for minor children. A trust established for the care of minor children is a must for many parents, as those children will be unable to make vital financial decisions on their own. Another similar type of trust is one intended to provide care for a loved one with special needs. This type of trust often requires an attorney's assistance to ensure it does not eliminate the loved one's opportunity to have government assistance.

Tips to minimize taxes when leaving an inheritance to kids

Most parents are eager to leave assets, including the family home and money, to children when they pass. However, if any form of an inheritance is given without forethought and proper planning, those well-meaning Michigan parents may also be leaving their children with a substantial and unwanted tax bill. It is important to consider the tax implications of an inheritance and any assets given to children before simply signing over property or leaving sums of money in a will.

One area of concern that must be handled correctly is the family home. Parents may want to give their children the deed when they are alive in order to keep the home from being tied up in probate. However, this can create a gift tax obligation. One solution that may work best for some families is to have a revocable trust for the home as this can eliminate the tax burden if the home is sold.

Protect yourself during real estate transactions

For some people, the buying or selling of property may be the biggest financial transaction in which they are ever involved. Real estate transactions are typically high-value exchanges, and they can also be an emotional decision. Because of what all is at stake and the complications that can arise, it is important for Michigan residents to protect themselves during real estate transactions.

Legal professionals who deal with real estate transactions expect to attend to certain services on behalf of the buyer or the seller. One expected service is the drafting a sales agreement, and both the buyer and seller need to review the document with their counsel so that they are aware of what is actually in the agreement. Negotiations pertaining to certain sticking points may also need legal intervention.

An estate plan is comprised of various documents

When most people think about an estate plan, they may naturally think of a will and not much else. Depending on the size of the Michigan estate and the number of beneficiaries, an estate plan can be comprised of a multitude of documents. It is important to understand which documents may pertain to your situation and to ensure you have all of your estate plan issues covered.

There are certain documents and decisions that may only apply to those with children, particularly minor children. Trusts may be best for minor children. There are special needs trusts to ensure children with special needs are cared for in the unique and individual way needed for their particular situation. Guardianship decisions and stipulations also need to be clearly outlined for anyone who has minor children. Without the right documents, the state could decide who gets the kids.

Now is the time for Michigan families to discuss an estate plan

The holiday season typically brings family members to the table who may be absent throughout the year. Considering that all family members may be in the same place at the same time, many experts believe the holiday season is the perfect time of year to disclose or make an estate plan. Michigan families may be hesitant to broach the subject, yet it may be necessary to do so sooner rather than later. There are helpful ways to begin the conversation and to ensure an estate plan for elderly parents is handled correctly.

When it comes to handling decisions involving elderly parents, one tip is for adult siblings to discuss the status of parental care or the status of an estate before having a family discussion with the parents. This can ensure all siblings are aware of the situation and no one feels out of the loop. If the idea is overwhelming or difficult to express, simply expressing concerns about medical and financial matters can get the conversation going.

Cutting of trees leads to real estate litigation situation

There are endless reasons why a lawsuit may arise between real estate owners who are neighbors. When land or homeowners share a property line in Michigan or elsewhere, property line disputes or disputes over trespassing and causing damage can lead to real estate litigation between neighbors. One case garnering news attention involves two property owners and the removal of 20 trees from one property to improve the view of the other.

The coastal properties in question are located in the northeast and are owned by a businessman from Chicago and a west coast couple. The couple visited the businessman and asked permission to cut trees from his property to improve their view of the bay. The businessman says he explicitly said no to the request. Despite this refusal, it is reported that someone went onto the man's property and cut down 20 trees and damaged 30 others trees in the process.

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